July 3 - 17, 2011
The Humpty Dumpty Institute and the United States Embassy in Russia arranged for singer/songwriter Mary McBride and her four-piece band (Paul Carbonara, Gregg Beshers, Kenny Soule, and Tommy Borscheid) to undertake a Cultural Diplomacy tour in Russia from July 3 to July 17, 2011. The program, which was part of the "American Seasons" program, was made possible by the Presidential Bilateral Commission.
Mary McBride began her extremely successful tour in Russia by immediately being made to feel at home in Moscow at the beautiful and well located Aerostar Hotel, a comfortable hotel known for its top service. McBride and her band were the featured performers at the U.S. Embassy's July 4th Reception at Spaso House, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, which was attended by 1,500 people, including the senior-most officials of the Russian government as well as diplomats, and cultural and business leaders. Performing a unique mix of country, blues, R&B, gospel and straight-up rock 'n roll, McBride performed many of her own songs from her four albums as well as iconic covers by the Beatles and by such American artists as, Simon and Garfunkel, Merle Haggard, the late Ray Charles, and Koko Taylor. In its wrap-up of this legendary annual party, the radio station Voice of Russia hailed McBride's music as the "highlight of the whole reception,” and the critic declared, “I was mesmerized by the singer. Her voice is very strong…and she really makes you fall in love with her songs.”
The following day, the group flew to Tomsk, one of the oldest towns in western Siberiam, watch the video. There, they headlined the Jazz Picnic Festival, located along the Tom River, and performed for an all-ages audience of more than 1,000 people, who were on their feet dancing on the bank of the river throughout McBride's two-hour concert. The group then drove to Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, where they played a concert on July 14 at the Novosibirsk Philharmonic, located a few blocks away from the city's historic Lenin Square. The highlights of McBride's two-set concert were her two encores -- Hank William's "So Lonesome I Could Cry," which she sang off-microphone at the foot of the Philharmonic stage, and "It Won't Be Long," a rollicking blues which was the first song recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1960. The following day, McBride and her band, who have long committed to performing live concerts for those in need, spent their last evening of the tour performing for more than 30 patients at the Moscow Rehabilitation Center, which provides medical and emotional support for Russians who have suffered from spinal-cord injuries.
In an e-mail, one Novosibirsk audience member told Ms. McBride her singing had “touched my heart. God bless America for introducing country music to the world. God bless your heart for your ministry to people in need, too. I hope you will come back to Siberia someday soon.”
Mary McBride’s cultural diplomacy mission to Russia successfully highlighted American values and culture to a Russian audience, increased awareness in Russia of HDI’s humanitarian programs around the world, and advances the goals of the Presidential Bilateral Commission.
at Joe.Merante@theHDI.org or at +1-212-944-7111